There are few beauty treatments as pleasurable as a facial. For the cost of a really nice meal, an esthetician spends about one hour cleaning, scrubbing, moisturizing, and (best of all) removing stubborn blackheads from your skin while relaxing music plays in the background. But what’s actually happening during a typical facial–and do skin experts consider them a luxury or a skin-saving necessity?
Believe it or not, experts say facials aren’t simply vital to maintaining the health and appearance of your skin, but they could even help sooth your soul. “Facials are very important because they help increase circulation and stimulate the skin, which you have to remember is our body’s largest organ,” says Dr. Antoine Gagnon, MD, CCFP, Medical Director of the Ottawa Skin Clinic. “Facials hydrate the skin, unclog the pores to improve overall health and appearance and prevent the appearance of wrinkles as we age. Even better, facial treatments help you feel relaxed and relieve stress, especially in combination with a massage.”
In addition to thinking of facials as non-invasive procedures that give you a quick skin fix, Mary Dellene, a certified nutrition counselor, holistic esthetician and body therapist who conducts wellness retreats through Daily Spa Living, stresses how they can alert clients to problems in the skin that may be caused by a current skincare regimen. In that way, you can almost think of a facial the way you would a wellness visit at your doctor.
“A trained esthetician can identify problems and their root cause and make appropriate recommendations to correct imbalances,” Dellene says. “Their advice can be priceless in making sure the client is using the products that are right for their particular skin type and needs.”
If you’ve never had a facial, Dellene describes what generally happens during a typical facial experience: “Every facial begins with a dermal-analysis to determine the proper treatment for your skin’s particular needs,” she says. “This is followed by a deep cleanse, followed by wiping the skin with a toner or skin tonic. The next step is usually some type of an exfoliation to remove dull surface cells. Most facials include a massage of the face, neck and shoulders. Sometimes a hand, arm, scalp and even foot massage are included. The next step is a corrective treatment mask and then a treatment serum and a hydrating cream to nourish and protect.”
Customers usually have the option of including extra, add-on treatments that target specific skin issues or concerns. Gagnon says add-ons at his clinic include the “Oxygenation Trio Facial” to correct and prevent free radical damage, Swich Dermal Rejuvenation System to treat damaged skin and a BioMatrix collagen mask to increase skin hydration. According to Dellene, common treatment options she offers clients include:
Eye Lift Treatment. Special attention to the delicate eye area reduces puffiness and plumps fine lines. Excellent for treating pre-and post-party stress.
Paraffin hand dips. Warm paraffin penetrates needed moisture for dry hands. It also helps achy joints.
Glycolic Peel. The ultimate in gentle exfoliation, alpha hydroxyl acids smooth, soften and refine the skin.
Collagen Sheet. Collagen helps improve the skin’s ability to hold moisture. This treatment refreshes and revitalizes stressed skin.
Reflexology Foot Massage. The ultimate in pampering, a relaxing foot massage using reflexology and herbal essential oils.
Intensive Ampoules. For special needs or special occasions, these nourishing ampoule concentrates boost the skin’s cellular metabolism imparting a fresh glow, improving color and vitality.
Both Gagnon and Dellene agree it’s best to get a facial once a month or once every 4-6 weeks based on your individual skin type. “Problematic skin should come in more often to target their skin concern, while maintenance facials could be more spaced out,” Gagnon says. “If an individual absolutely could not afford to come in on a regular basis, we do recommend a facial every season, as our skin goes through changes based on weather changes.”
For more beauty tips, check out the one thing you should consider when putting on lip balm and should you wear makeup while you work out?